A step by step guide on how to crush your finals

Sarah Wagner December 1, 2015 1
A step by step guide on how to crush your finals
Coffee, calculator, flashcards and MathXL — all necessities for a successful finals study session. Photographer: Sarah Wagner '16

Ah, finals. A week of sweatpants and sweaty palms, Ticonderoga #2 pencils and ticking clocks. For some of you, this might be your first set of finals. For others, it might be your last. Either way, finals are intimidating. As someone nearing the end of my high school final exam career, here are a few tips I’ve picked up on how to crush those finals.

#1: Don’t give up.

It’s easy to see a final exam and think, “Eh, there’s just too much information for me to bother learning, I’d rather just study minimally and hope for the best.” If you feel yourself thinking this way, take a step back. The material may seem all-encompassing, intimidating and vast, but it is conquerable. But the first step to conquering it is believing that you can do just that.

#2: Start early.

Ideally, you should start studying for finals at least 2 weekends before the test. That’s not the end all be all rule, but it’s a good guideline. Struggling in a class? Maybe start another week early. Need to get just a 20% on the final to keep your A in the class? Maybe brush up on a couple of things the weekend before. You get the picture: prioritize where you need to spend the bulk of your time (rogerhub is a helpful tool to do so), but give yourself time.

#3: Use your resources.

Did your teacher give you a study guide? COMPLETE IT. If there isn’t a study guide, don’t fret. You just spent a semester in this class, so hopefully you at least vaguely know what happened. Go through all of your quizzes and tests, and maybe consider making yourself a blank version so you can retake it. Make your own study guide, using notes or your textbook. Search the internet for worksheets (Kuta is great for math). Still stuck on where to start? Ask your teacher for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Hey, I really want to make sure that I do well on this final, how could I get started now?” Teachers really appreciate when you take initiative and your final grade will reflect that as well.

#4: Tailor your study experience to your learning style.

Know yourself and what works for you. If you have a cool idea for a study strategy, run with it. Maybe you’re artistic, and it would help you to make a giant poster board flow chart. Maybe making a song would help you memorize those metric prefixes. Do what works for you, even if it’s different than what your friend is doing.

#5: Have confidence in what you studied.

Once you’ve slaved away for that math exam, don’t doubt yourself. Own your knowledge. I remember walking into a math final one year and telling myself, “This test is going to cry when I’m done with it — there is nothing on it that can stump me.” Having that mentality really helped me. If something looked confusing at first sight, a voice in my head would remind me, “No, no, you know this.” I did pretty darn well on that test and it was all because I didn’t doubt myself. Believe in what you studied.

#6: Remember, it’s just a test.

Don’t neglect your health or happiness in order to do well. If possible, try to have fun while studying. Play some music while calculating a slope. Meet with friends if that’s your style. At the end of the day, it is just a test, and in the grand scheme of your life it won’t mean anything!

One Comment »

  1. Dr. Yoshimura December 2, 2015 at 9:47 AM -

    “Do what works for you, even if it’s different than what your friend is doing.” Very wise words!